At least 108 people have been arrested by the 400-member Anti-Galamsey Task force dispatched across the country last week.
The men were arrested at their mining sites during regular patrol conducted by the task force. The contingent in the Ashanti Region has arrested 82 illegal miners while the team in Eastern Region has arrested 26 people.
Deputy Eastern Regional Police PRO, Inspector Gideon Boateng, said the task force found the men busily mining in the forest at the time of arrest. He told Joy FM’s Top Story last Monday that the men were using heavy equipment including excavators to search for the gold. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Boateng, expressed surprise at the activities of the miners considering government’s effort to end illegal mining in the country.
But the anti-galamsey work in the Ashanti Region turned bloody when galamseyers reportedly clashed with members of the taskforce resulting in the death of a 31-year-old Kwabena Agyeman.
The tragedy was caused by an unfriendly exchange between the patrol team and illegal miners at Wawasi in Obuasi, PRO for the anti-galamsey taskforce dubbed: Operation Vanguard, Major Gariba Pabi, explained. He said while some of the miners pelted stones at the patrol team, the others fired gun.
The task force retaliated, Major Gariba Pabi said. “They were pelting stones maybe to reduce the speed of our people from arresting them, so they have to also fight back and run,” he narrated. According to reports, the community is quiet with residents moody over the shooting incident.
“Residents said they are afraid of their lives because of what happened,” the reports said. But Chief Executive Officer of Volunteers Against Environmental Degradation, Richard Addo, has expressed his disappointment with the tragedy. “We were doing this work for the past five months and we did it without killing even a bird,” he said.
He said the focus of the task force is misplaced because about 80 per cent of the illegal miners have abandoned their work since the start of anti-galamsey campaign.
“We expect the task force will move into the forest reserves and fetch the Chinese who are there,” Mr. Addo said, adding that the task force needs close monitoring.
He called on government to include officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission and journalists in the work of the 400-member anti-galamsey task force to ensure the right thing is done.
Minerals & Mining Matters
…with Freeman Koryekpor Awlesu